My Online Literary Experiment: Okay, Am I Stupid?

Deep breath…

So a few weeks ago I got called out by a writer/editor/publishing professional on Twitter questioning my goals and my thoughts behind this experiment of mine, Permanent Spring Showers. My little book inspired by Dickens.

Twitter, in its limited word span, can make things seem harsher than the writer may actually have meant it to sound (I did feel like he was condescending) but it threw me a curve.

Was I jarred? Yeah, I was jarred. I still am jarred.

I also like the word “jarred,” but let’s continue.

Basically, his argument was broken down into this point:

What publisher would publish or consider a book that people were getting for free?

Before other bloggers and writers take to my twitter site (@sdsouthard) to find the guy and twitter attack, let me say that about two-years ago I would have agreed with him. Yeah, I was in that camp then because I was trained in writing grad school to think of the publishing world in that black-and-white way. Heck, every book on writing and publishing would agree with him!

But the fact is that while this argument once made sense to me, it is not that way today. The world has changed, I have changed. Continue reading

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My Online Literary Experiment: Half of the Writing Hurdles

This Friday, when I post chapter 13, I will pass the halfway mark in my book. With that publication I will exceed 175 pages in the book, mapping out a book that will roughly be about 350 pages in length.

Those are the numbers, but they hardly express the emotional and wear and tear of the process to get to this point.

Recently, I had someone on Twitter ask me how many drafts I create of a chapter before I post it. It’s a great question and in a typical book, I would have numerous drafts of a book. There is the initial draft of a first draft when I do what I basically need to do; the other drafts are as it is updated to fit the rest of the book that is coming together; and finally the master drafts as the book is melded together into one beautiful whole.

Yet in Permanent Spring Showers that is not how it works out. I move forward, because the book moves forward. So I can only hope that the work when completed as a whole will feel like a complete whole by the end. Right now, I’m feeling really confident. That is probably the main gift reaching the halfway mark has given me. Continue reading

My Online Literary Experiment: Emotions Run Amuck

I’m an emotional writer.

What that means is I “feel” a book into existence. That’s not to say logic doesn’t have a place at the table (I wouldn’t have realistic motives, character sketches, or even an outline without Mr. Logic), it’s just that he is not at the front of the table. He is somewhere in the back of the room and if he raises his hand he might not be seen.

Yes, logic has to shout to get my attention a lot when I write.

It’s just for me to accomplish writing something I consider “true” I have to experience it emotionally as the reader will, maybe even more. If you read something that makes you cry, chances are I wailed before you. If I make you laugh, chances are I laughed as well (maybe even out loud with a slight loss of breath).

However, there is one important problem with being an emotional writer, it is that a work while in progress is more than simply words on paper, it is emotional dynamite for me, and it can affect my mood and my perception while working in the book or even while thinking of it outside of it. It is always there, like a powder keg ready to be lit. Continue reading

Downton Abbey as Art: Some Thoughts on the Great Series

Television is rarely art.

A big part of that is because of how it is made, this is especially true in America.

American television is a business model made out of light entertainment, with the hope of reaching as much of the viewing population as possible.  While a creator may start with the spark of an idea, it is in the manufacturing of that idea where the art is lost; and business men take over, hoping to stretch an idea out for as long as possible, generating the highest quota of viewers and advertising sales. And through this process sadly creators can disappear (Consider Dan Harmon and Community, which I wrote about here), walking away (or forced away) from their own creations, their own babies.

To understand what I mean about art, consider one important element that makes a good novel art. It is not merely the initial idea, but the follow through from the beginning to the end, everything coming together to make a wonderful perfected whole, like a present with a bow on top. Television doesn’t have that, especially in America, and it is rare that any writer or even creator know what they are working towards. Don’t believe me? Remember when they gave an end date for the show Lost and everyone thought that was revolutionary?

So while a show might have a few great episodes, a few great seasons, it is rare you can step back and look at a complete package and say that is a well-told story from beginning to end. Continue reading

My Online Literary Experiment: The Joy and Agony of Reaching 100 Pages

100 pages has always been my writing hump.

I can’t explain why this is true exactly, but it has been for each of the six books I have written (three published, and one online), but I do have some theories. By 100 pages, I will have presented and introduced much of the plot, the style of the work will be firmly in place, and by then each of my major characters would have stepped forward and taken a bow. The only time I can remember this not being true was when I wrote A Jane Austen Daydream and the main love interest would not emerge until almost page 200.

Sometimes this 100 page marker can be a book killer. I have abandoned work and actually started over from scratching after reaching that mark and not being happy with what I did building up to that almost holy number.

When Chapter 8 goes up on Friday, I will have reached 100 pages for Permanent Spring Showers, and with it, just like noted above, much of the plot and all of the major characters will be introduced. Yet, because of how I am creating this work and sharing it the feeling of relief I usually get at this point does not feel the same. Continue reading

My Online Literary Experiment: An Introduction

I want to do something dangerous.

Yes, I want to do something fraught with peril. Something that could literally make or break this little writing blog. Something that will put my ego (no matter how minor it is) on the line.

When I started this blog my goal was to get my writing voice back (I explain what I mean a lot more in this recent editorial here), and after seven months and 190 entries I feel I have done much of the repair work needed. In other words, I am happy with where I am creatively and I trust myself again to create.

My brain is back on.

Yes, I have confidence in my ability again, it has returned, but now I want to be tested. And if you stick around this blog you will see the result of this experiment I am giving myself… and like I said this could make or break the site and that confidence I have worked so hard in over 500 pages of editorials to bring back over this year. Continue reading